Brooklyn Botanic Garden

07/29/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/30/2021 10:51

Brooklyn Community Rallies to Oppose Rezoning of 960 Franklin Avenue Ahead of City Planning Commission Hearing

Hundreds of community members express outrage over luxury development threatening Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Jackie Robinson Playground, and Medgar Evers College 

Release Date: July 29, 2021

Brooklyn, NY-Brooklyn community members came out in force at a rally today to oppose the rezoning of 960 Franklin Avenue to allow for construction of a nearly 40-story building complex, approximately 150 feet from Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Shadows cast from the project would present an existential threat to the Garden and harm other nearby institutions.

At the rally, community members spoke of the devastating impact that shadows from the luxury condominiums would have on the Garden, Medgar Evers College, Jackie Robinson Playground, and the surrounding community. The shadows would harm plants that the Garden has carefully cultivated for decades, and threaten the entirety of its collection. Among the speakers were BBG president Adrian Benepe, Municipal Art Society president Elizabeth Goldstein, Brooklyn community garden leaders Barbara Adamson, Julia Charles, and River Fields, and Leonard Paul, foreman of the Steinhardt Conservatory and president of Local 374 of DC37, the union that represents more than 100 Garden employees. A band of local high school students, Control the Sound, played a live set ahead of the rally including their song inspired by the Garden entitled 'Fight for Sunlight.'

As part of New York City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), Community Board 9 and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held hearings on the rezoning proposal. The community board held its public hearing on June 21 and voted to oppose the development on June 24. Borough President Adams held a hearing on June 29, and is expected to offer his recommendation shortly. The City Planning Commission is holding its hearing on July 29 at 10 a.m. and is expected to vote on the proposal in August.

The rezoning application has been widely criticized by elected officials, community leaders, and members of the City Planning Commission. A petition opposing the development was signed by almost 60,000 community members.

'Tens of thousands of community residents and many elected officials and City Planning Commission members have publicly opposed this project because of the damage that it will do to the Garden and surrounding neighborhood,' said BBG president Adrian Benepe. 'We urge the local elected officials who stand in the path of approval of the rezoning proposal to reject this development and protect the community and neighborhood.'

Brooklyn Botanic Garden was established more than 110 years ago and has one of the world's most impressive collections of plants, with rare plants native to the New York City region, venerable trees that are over a century old, and greenhouses displaying plants from six continents. The Garden hosts thousands of visitors every day.

(BBG president Adrian Benepe is available for interviews. Contact David Weiner or Elizabeth Reina-Longoria.)